By Brad Gregory, Co-Chairman, PGA Rules Committee
During the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Kevin Stadler found himself in a sticky situation.
On the 11th hole, his tee shot ended up stuck to a cholla (pronounced choy-yah) cactus. Unable to play the ball Stadler decided to proceed under the ball unplayable Rule, incurring a one stroke penalty and drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the original ball lied in the cactus.
The television announcers questioned whether Stadler had to retrieve the ball.
Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) allows a player to substitute a ball no matter how easy or difficult it would be to retrieve the original ball. This was an exceptionally good thing for Stadler as those that play golf in the desert know “there is no joy-yah in cholla”.
Brad Gregory is a PGA Master Professional from Show Low, Arizona, and a Co-Chairman of the PGA Rules Committee.
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Newly crowned Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Kevin Stadler will now begin to reap the many rewards that come with winning his first PGA Tour title.
There’s the satisfaction of realizing a lifelong dream.
There’s the gratification of knowing that you can perform at your highest level when the pressure is the most crushing.
There’s the two-year PGA Tour exemption and, of course, the hefty winner’s check.
And if that weren’t enough, Stadler and his dad, 13-time PGA Tour winner Craig Stadler, will also make history come April when they become the first father-and-son duo to compete in the same Masters.
But if he keeps up his stellar play, perhaps his most prestigious reward would come in September in Scotland.
With his white-knuckle final-hole victory over Bubba Watson at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday, the soon-to-be 34-year-old Stadler – his birthday is this Wednesday – earned a valuable 1,116.002 points to vault 38 places into the top 10 of the latest Team USA Ryder Cup Points Standings.
Here’s a quick look at the current top 12:
1. Jimmy Walker (2,417.83)
2. Phil Mickelson (2,374.98)
3. Jason Dufner (2,261.28)
4. Zach Johnson (2,196.28)
5. Harris English (2,106.94)
6. Dustin Johnson (2,012.41)
7. Ryan Moore (1,986.20)
8. Webb Simpson (1,982.90)
9. Chris Kirk (1,805.31)
10. Kevin Stadler (1,492.70)
11. Brian Stuard (1,228.11)
12. Patrick Reed (1,217.55)
Watson, who played brilliantly through 68 holes, stumbled down the stretch in Scottsdale to miss out on his first win since the 2012 Masters. He drove it in the water en route to a bogey on the par-5 15th – shockingly, the long-bomber made only one birdie and three pars on the reachable 553-yard hole – then bogeyed the par-3 16th before missing a 5-foot par putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff with Stadler.
As a consolation prize, Watson earned enough Ryder Cup points to jump from 50th place to 19th.
Among those who also improved their respective place on the U.S. points standings were Ryan Moore, who jumped from ninth to seventh; Charles Howell III (18 to 15); Chris Stroud (22 to 21); Hunter Mahan (37 to 26); Pat Perez (33 to 27) and Brendan Steele (69 to 49).
This week, the PGA Tour moves to California’s picturesque Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
What is Joe Namath wearing?!?!
— Trevor Immelman (@TrevorImmelman) February 2, 2014
Ummm. Is Denver stuck on the mass transit still? Wake up men!
— Steve Flesch (@Steve_Flesch) February 2, 2014
Anyone have the Broncos having 11 total yards in the 1st Q??
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) February 3, 2014
I have watched better little league games than this Super Bowl
— Shawn Stefani (@ShawnStefani1) February 3, 2014
Seattle D killing it in fantasy.
— Will Strickler (@wstrick17) February 3, 2014
I think I just heard Peyton Manning shout "UNCLE"...
— Gary Player (@garyplayer) February 3, 2014
Irony: Team that broke so many offensive records this season go to the half time break on 0.
— Aron Price (@aronpricePGA) February 3, 2014
Wow! This is a great Super Bowl game! Says no one ever!
— Steve Flesch (@Steve_Flesch) February 3, 2014
— cliff kresge (@cliffkresge) February 3, 2014
— Richard H Lee (@Richard_LeePGA) February 3, 2014
Solid halftime performance by Bruno Mars. Anyone know what kind of hair product does he uses? Thinking about going w that look this yr.
— Ben Crane (@bencranegolf) February 3, 2014
The companies that bought advertisement time towards the end of the game must be really happy!!
— Richard S Johnson (@Rich_S_Johnson) February 3, 2014
Love Seattle's play calling, leave no doubt.
— JJ Killeen (@jjkilleentcu) February 3, 2014
This game is only interesting in one category now.... Over/under
— Aron Price (@aronpricePGA) February 3, 2014
If this was a fight the ref would stop it. I'm pleased I didn't bet on the broncos.
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) February 3, 2014
Anybody know when the Super Bowl starts?
— Josh Teater (@jteater12) February 3, 2014
Saturday's crowd at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was announced at 189,722 -- a new PGA Tour one-day record. Perhaps that doesn't seem like much of a big deal. But just think about it in different ways, and it's a very big deal indeed.
Sunday's Super Bowl will be held at MetLife Stadium, which has a listed capacity of 82,500. That means the folks at TPC Scottsdale on Saturday could have filled MetLife twice -- and there would have been 24,722 people still trying to buy tickets from scalpers outside.
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How about something a little closer to home? Combine the seating of all four of Phoenix's professional home venues -- University of Phoenix Stadium (63,400), Chase Field (49,033), US Airways Center (18,422) and Jobing.com Arena (17,125) -- and you still come up nearly 42,000 seats shy. The 10 Cactus League spring training stadiums hold a combined 107,565 -- 57 percent of what would be needed for Saturday's attendance. Scottsdale's estimated population is 223,514, only 33,792 more than what piled into TPC Scottsdale in one day.
That's a pretty good-sized city right there, bigger than Salt Lake City (189,314), Tallahassee, Fla. (186,971), or Huntsville, Ala. (183,739). In fact, the crowd at the Phoenix Open would have been the fourth-largest city in Scotland, just slightly smaller than the population of Dundee (195,021).
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Let's say you wanted to pack everybody up and take them to next week's AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. The largest passenger jet in the world is the Airbus A380, which has seating for 525 people. So you'd only need around 362 A380s stacked up at the terminals at Sky Harbor International to handle everybody, not including all that lost luggage.
What about the world's largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas? It has cabin space for 6,296 passengers, which means you'd need 31 ships of that size to ferry every Phoenix Open fan to another port -- although the Salt River is probably not particularly navigable for anything bigger than a kayak. And don't forget to tip your servers and cabin stewards.
And what if you offered to treat everybody to a free round of golf? That's 47,431 foursomes. If your course can handle a foursome every nine minutes, starting at 7 a.m. and having the last foursome off at around 4 p.m. (with no weather delays), it'd take approximately 790 days to get the last group back in the clubhouse. That's two years and two months worth of greens fees. I hope there are a lot of rental clubs and golf carts available.
Almost 190,000 fans on one golf course? That's a pretty big deal, when you sit down and think about it.